Elbow Extension Exercises
The elbow is a single joint capsule comprised of three bones - the humerus, radius and ulna. Motions at the elbow include flexion (bending), extension (straightening), supination (turning the forearm so the palm faces up) and pronation (turning the forearm so the palm faces down). These motions allow you to utilize your hands to perform daily tasks such as eating, opening doors and brushing your hair. Elbow pain and stiffness are common as people age. The following elbow extension exercises are described to help loosen and strengthen the elbow.
Isometric Elbow Extension
Isometric elbow extension is an exercise that helps both loosen and strengthen the elbow. To perform isometric elbow extension, bend your elbow and place your wrist on top of your other hand. Place some resistance against your bent arm and try to straighten your elbow. Do not allow your arm to straighten. Try and hold this position for 10 to 20 seconds, relax and repeat two to three more times. This exercise can be done with the elbow bent at different angles.
Active Elbow Extension
Active elbow extension helps both loosen and strengthen the muscles in and around the elbow. To perform active elbow extension, stand or sit in a chair with your back against the seat. Hold a cane or other long handled device with your palms facing up. Slowly bend your elbows as you bring the cane or other object to your chest. Then slowly straighten your elbows and hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Repeat the exercise 10 to 15 times.
Resistive Elbow Extension
Resistive elbow extension helps to strengthen the elbow muscles. To perform resistive elbow extension, stand or sit in a chair holding a light weight in your hand. Raise your arm above your head. While keeping your arm in the air, slowly bend and straighten your elbow. Perform 10 to 20 repetitions, two to three times a day.
The exercises discussed provide you with the opportunity to both stretch and strengthen your elbow. Each of these exercises (isometric extension, active extension and resistive extension) can help you both loosen and strengthen your elbow. If these exercises are not helpful to you, it is suggested that you see your health professional to determine what may help loosen or strengthen your elbow.
- Functional Anatomy of the Elbow
- The Elbow
- Frydman A, Johnston R, Smidt N, Green S, Buchbinder R. Manual therapy and exercise for lateral elbow pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Jun; 2018(6): CD013042. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD013042
- Javed M, Mustafa S, Boyle S, Scott F. Elbow pain: a guide to assessment and management in primary care. Br J Gen Pract. 2015;65(640):610-2. doi:10.3399/bjgp15X687625
- Wilk KE, Macrina LC, Cain EL, Dugas JR, Andrews JR. Rehabilitation of the Overhead Athlete's Elbow. Sports Health. 2012;4(5):404-14. doi:10.1177/1941738112455006
- Güleçyüz MF, Pietschmann MF, Michalski S, et al. Reference Values of Flexion and Supination in the Elbow Joint of a Cohort without Shoulder Pathologies. Biomed Res Int. 2017;2017:1654796. doi:10.1155/2017/1654796
- Kim J, Yim J. Effects of an Exercise Protocol for Improving Handgrip Strength and Walking Speed on Cognitive Function in Patients with Chronic Stroke. Med Sci Monit. 2017;23:5402-5409. doi:10.12659/MSM.904723
Jen Weir writes for several websites, specializing in the health and fitness field. She holds a Bachelor of Science in exercise science from Montana State University, is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist and maintains a personal trainer certification from the American College of Sports Medicine.